Women are never “asking for it” – that’s the point one student at Wesleyan University is raising in a viral video designed to spread awareness of sexual assault.
Sally Rappaport produced the video last spring when she was a freshman as part of “Project Not Asking For It.”
The campaign has since taken college and high school campuses by storm, and the message is this: No matter how a woman dresses, dances or behaves, she is not inviting an attack or violation.
“I think dancing and bodies touching in close quarters are such a part of the college and party experience,” explained Rappaport. “I wanted to make a video that showed people dancing – dancing in a certain way, and that some people normally label as ‘asking for it’ – and demonstrate that it wasn’t and nothing ever is.”
Rappaport produced the video – set to Lauryn Hill’s 1998 classic “That Thing” – in a freshman dorm last year with the help of some friends. She took up the issue amidst two sexual assault lawsuits that raised questions about the future of fraternities at Wesleyan.
But her vision spanned far beyond the Middletown campus.
“I thought the medium of Facebook was a really great way to spread that message,” she explained.
It wasn't long before colleges around the country, including Columbia University and the University of Kansas, followed suit, producing videos of their own and helping to spread the word about safety and respect.
“It’s all [in] spaces where people are uninformed, where people are under the influence of something and can’t make decisions,” Rappaport said, of sexual assaults among college students. “And that’s why I think it’s so important for people to know about this as much as possible.”
A spokesperson for the university said Wesleyan is proud of students who are making a difference by increasing awareness of sexual assault.